(We welcome guest blogger, journalist Liane Faulder and thank her for adding such a thoughtful personal story to our tree blog. Here it is……)
I think that I shall never see, a post as lovely as a tree.
Though I’ve taken a liberty with the famous poem by American writer Joyce Kilmer, his point remains as sharp and true today as it was in 1914.
A tree brings countless blessings to the natural environment, and while a tree is nothing short of perfect, all by itself — defying the common metaphor of a blog post — there is something about the tree that compels us to keep trying to describe what it means.
I remember a very special tree. It was located out front of McDougall United Church, in downtown Edmonton, and it greeted me as I crossed the street daily for some 25 years, passing the church to get to my reporting job at the Edmonton Journal. It was a crab apple, a huge, gnarled creature that nestled next to the historic, red brick church and changed extravagantly with the seasons.
In the winter, it was heavy and quiet with snow. Spring saw a burst of pink blossoms, and in summer, the crab apple tree provided leafy shade as I waited on the corner for the stoplight to change. Come fall, it felt wistful to me, because something was ending.
I tried to talk my husband, who was a professional photographer, into documenting the seasons of the tree for me, but he just looked at me as if I was mad. When the church underwent extensive renovations in 2016, the tree was chopped down. I felt hollow in my belly for months afterwards every time I crossed the street.
Another memorable tree came to be in the tiny backyard of a duplex I once lived in with my boys, starting when they were about three and five years old. I remember having $150 to spend on yard improvements one spring season, and I struggled to decide between putting a tree into the barren space, and buying a patio set.
Thankfully, I picked the tree, a delicious Schubert Chokecherry that produced green leaves and sprigs of tiny white flowers in spring, and then turned a rich, deep burgundy as the season progressed.
When we left that house, it hurt me to leave the Shubert Chokecherry behind, but I managed to transplant my youngest son’s Gr. 1 tree from that modest back yard into the yard of our next home, which provided some comfort.
For all the good that trees do for the environment, and the amount they contribute to sheer beauty, they also carry emotional weight. It comforted me to plant the Schubert Chokecherry at the duplex, to invest in a lasting and meaningful way in the home that I created for the boys and me. The tree would be there long after we were gone, and I liked that. Likewise with the Gr. 1 tree. There is perhaps nothing as solid and satisfying as a sapling no bigger than your index finger that grows strong and tall, content to stay peacefully rooted as its namesake moves out into the world
Now, in a new home, in a new marriage, a tree once again creates meaning. Though I don’t recall mentioning to my boys, now 32 and 34, that trees hold a special place in my heart, they chose to recognize my 60th birthday by planting an Algonquin Pillar pine in the front yard of our new home.
It has been dug into the north side of the property, near the front window, and I can see it from my living room. The tree frames the yard, just so, and will remind me of the boys, always. It’s hard to describe how much it all means to me — the house, the tree, the marriage, and the children.